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Information on Intellectual Property (IP) Rights

Designs

Designs and creations, i.e., the two or three dimensional appearance of an industrial or manufactured product or parts thereof, can be protected from illegal imitation by the design protection.
The criteria underlying the design protection are novelty and characteristic in nature. These criteria will typically not be examined prior registration of the design right in Germany at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, but only upon enforcement of the design protection in an infringement suit.
The protection term of a registered design can be extended to maximum 25 years from the filing date.

Trade marks

Trade marks are the core of goods and services, which enable to distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors. Registered trade marks are represented by signs capable of being represented graphically, such as words, including personal names, designs, letters, numerals, sounds or three-dimensional designs, in particular the shape of goods or of their packaging, and colour or colour compositions, provided that the signs are capable of distinguishing the goods and services from one undertaking from those of another undertaking.
The protection term of a trade mark is typically 10 years from the filing date and can be extended unlimited times for additional 10 years.

Further information

The above information on IP Rights is mainly given on the basis of the legal situation in Germany. Further information on IP Rights at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office are published under: http://www.dpma.de

Patents

Patents provide a monopoly right for technical inventions (compounds, compositions and apparatus, use of the compounds, compositions and apparatus as well as processes), i.e., the inventor or his assignee is entitled to a prohibition right against third parties.
An invention must amongst others meet the criteria of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability (utility). These criteria are examined during the patent granting procedure before the respective patent offices, in Germany before the German Patent and Trade Mark Office. In case the invention meets the criteria, the patent office will decide to grant a patent.
The term of a patent can be extended to a maximum of 20 years from the filing date. The protection term for a product with respect to a pharmaceutical or plant protecting agent can be extended for up to additional 5 years by the grant of a supplemental protection certificate. Prohibition rights against third parties can typically be enforced after grant of a patent.

Utility models

The utility model is like the patent a technical IP right with a difference that for utility rights claims to processes are legally excluded from protection. However, since the decision "Arzneimittelgebrauchsmuster" of the Federal Supreme Court of Germany (X ZB 7/03) has been taken, claims to a method of using a compound in the manufacture of a medicament can be covered by a utility model.
In contrast to a patent the protection term of utility model can only be extended to maximum 10 years from the filing date. Moreover, the criteria of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability are not examined prior to registration of the utility right.
As the prohibition right of a registered utility model can be enforced from its filing date, the utility model is also known as a "quick" protection right.
Although the utility model is in particular because of its reduced costs historically known as "the patent for the small man", the utility model nowadays gains due to its quick enforability and the new possibility of protection of method of use claims for medicaments more and more importance to middle-sized and international (pharmaceutical) companies.